What Should I Wear to a Renaissance Festival?

Renaissance Festival Garb
Renaissance Festival Garb. Rain Blanken

When attending a renaissance festival, you should wear garb that is both historically correct and pertains to the persona you have chosen. Not everyone dresses up, you can wear street clothes if you like, but playing the part makes the experience worth the ticket price!

Persona

Are you a lady in waiting? A peasant wench? Dress according to how much money you imagine your 'character' would have to spend on clothes.

Rich fabrics were only available to nobility, while drab neutral colors belonged to peasants. 

Historically Accurate 

There are a couple of attitudes on this one. Some people will say to avoid dressing like a Harry Potter character or a gothic vampire. Children can get away with dressing like fairies and the like, but the real ren-faire buffs will tell you that you should probably go for something more 16th century.

  • Absolute no-no's for historical accuracy: No sneakers with skirts, avoid wristwatches, and sunglasses. For ideas, check out this medieval clothing gallery.
  • Go the other way entirely. I've seen people attend Ren Faire as officers from the USS Enterprise, or even as Dr. Who. If you're having fun, then you're doing it right!

The other camp of people will tell you to dress however you darn well please! I am of this attitude because ultimately a renaissance festival is a place to let go and have fun.

Wear a Nice Attitude

If your goal is to buy or create period costumes to achieve total historical accuracy, fine. But let's let everyone else have a good time, too. Follow a "No Snarking" rule. If someone hasn't asked you if their costume is historically accurate, keep the condescending pointers to yourself.

If a fellow patron actually asks you for advice, give them some helpful constructive criticism.

Not Like a Desperate Wench

Remember that bodices and corsets are meant to leave something to the imagination. Cleavage is good fun, but don't hike your corset more than halfway unless you want to risk some spillage! Skirts should be long with boots or slippers; not high heels. You wouldn't want to walk around the festival grounds in heels, anyway.

Don't Forget the Pirates!

Remember, girls can be pirates, too. If you don't like the idea of going wench, wear a pair of cotton pants with a blouse. Loop a long scarf through the pants and wear as a belt.